TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference Adelaide, 1 November 2018
With: Hon Stephan Knoll MP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government; Minister for Planning; South Australia
Subjects: Driverless vehicle technology; National Party; strong border protection policies
It's fantastic to be here at the third International Driverless Vehicle Summit. This is a wonderful opportunity for Adelaide to showcase what it's doing on driverless autonomous vehicle technology. I acknowledge that work that the Steven Marshall Government, with the Transport Minister here, Stephan Knoll, is doing to make sure that Adelaide is front and centre of driverless technology. As a young child, I grew up watching George Jetson, Jane his wife, and Elroy et cetera, et cetera, seeing how they whizzed around their environment. But that technology is not for the future, it’s right here now. We as the Federal Government, and of course the South Australian Liberal Government, are embracing the opportunities - not the challenges because there are challenges, sure, but there are more opportunities. There are opportunities to create prosperity, opportunities to create jobs in this space, but there's also opportunities to get people around sooner and safer. We need to, of course, make sure that we've got the technology, the regulations, the legislation in place, and that's what we're doing. I really enjoy the working relationship I’ve got with Stephan Knoll and the South Australian Government indeed, other Governments state and territory as well.
Next week, we've got the Transport Infrastructure Council Meeting and we'll be discussing driverless technology and discussing what we can do to make sure that we meet the opportunities for tomorrow, today. We’ll make sure we discuss the prospects of driverless technology and what it's going to bring Australian motorists, Australian commuters. We've got a $75 billion rollout of investment over the next decade. I know Stephan is keen that South Australia is part and parcel of that investment that the Commonwealth is making into our states, into our territories, into better byways and highways; and of course, we have to be able to design the roads that we need before driverless technology.
It’s coming. Some of the technology is already being rolled out in vehicles and it's creating a safer environment for our people to get out and about.
It's great to be here at the summit. I know that ADVI, run by Michael and Rita, are doing a wonderful job. Three years they’ve been out there harnessing potential and making sure that investors are on board, making sure that the insurance arm of the business community is also on board with this; and I acknowledge that we had last night, at a dinner to open the summit, people from the insurance industry seeing how they can also get involved, because liability is also going to be part and parcel of this. So, the insurance people are front and centre of it as well. I welcome investment in this. I welcome Adelaide’s participation in this driverless summit. We've got people from all over the globe here meeting in South Australia and seeing what we can do to embrace tomorrow's technology today. Stephan.
Thanks, Michael, and can I acknowledge the work that the Federal Government’s doing in this space and the great opportunities they've been able to help provide us, especially the work that Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, has undertaken. Here in South Australia, we are at the forefront of bringing this technology into reality, but it can only happen with a good co-operation with the Federal Government. To make sure that we get on and allow this technology to progress as soon as possible requires strong working relationship between State and Federal Governments, and on that I'd like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for the work that he’s done to date and the work that we're going to do over the coming months.
The exciting thing about being here in South Australia is that we are at the forefront of this technology, whether that be the first jurisdiction to allow on-road trials through changes to legislation; whether that be the largest cluster of autonomous vehicle trials in the country; whether that be the next stages that we look to, to actually help bring this technology to life - not just trial it but actually use it as a live part of that transport network. The opportunities are endless and them being discussed here as part of this ADVI conference over the next couple of days is really exciting. What we've got is a Government that’s keen to get on and do it at a Federal level, at a State level, but also a willingness to bring the community along with us, so that it is about people accepting this as a technology, that this is a safer way to get around, and that we can not only get more efficient and more productive but we can actually get greater safety on our roads and see less people dying on our roads.
We’ve got some local people here too, from RDM and SAGE; great local businesses in relation to SAGE and RDM, who are a community here investing in South Australia and in the autonomous vehicle here in South Australia.
Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister. It’s an honour to have you here today and you too, so thank you for participating today. For us at SAGE Automation, this presents a fantastic opportunity for us. The leadership shown and the investment shown, from a Federal Government and also from the State point of view, gives us the certainty, if you like, for us to actually invest further as well. In the last 12 months we’ve employed more than 50 people associated with similar works like this, and SAGE ourselves, we’ve also invested in research and development and also new technologies. So, for us, it’s an exciting time and it’s one we’re very proud to be associated with. So, thank you.
Hi, good morning everyone. I’m David Keene and I’m CEO and founder of RDM Group and Aurrigo driverless cars. This is our third conference. We came here in 2016. We’re a UK based company and in 2016. We formed a wholly-owned subsidiary right here in Adelaide. The reason we did that is multiple: first of all, fantastic environment to work in the connective and autonomous vehicle arena; a real can-do attitude, which I personally think is absolutely fantastic; and of course, ADVI, we became members of ADVI almost instantaneously. It was a no-brainer for us. They bring together a cluster of probably the most advanced companies that I’ve seen in the world. We set up our operation at the Tonsley Innovation Centre and we have three of our vehicles operating there. And I have to say, it’s a really exciting time for Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, my company and the cab space. And we expect to expand quite dramatically over the new few years in Australia.
Thank you. Yes, right. Actually, might I ask something of you first Stephan, if you don’t mind? Just in terms of Adelaide and what this means: I’ve been having a look at the Matilda bus stop over there; what does it mean for the different populations around Adelaide, in particular, the disability or aged care sector?
The fantastic thing about autonomous vehicles is their ability to help people who aren’t as mobile, who can’t get around as easily to be able to do that. In fact, we just announced this morning, a new trial of autonomous shuttles in Renmark. The idea behind that is to help those who aren’t as mobile, can’t get around as easy, to be able to visit the local shops, to get around and do the daily errands that they struggle to do today. And again this shows an investment not only in regional South Australia but in dealing with and trying to help those groups that struggle to get around to be able to do so with this technology.
What are the goals here in Adelaide in heading forward in South Australia, broadly?
This is a fast moving space and South Australia is at the forefront of this, but we need to keep moving and we need to keep moving forward. And the Future Mobility Lab Funding has been fantastic to be able to generate a cluster of trials to help understand this technology further. But we've got to take those next steps and those next steps really are how do we create a self-sustaining ecosystem for, of a cluster of businesses here in South Australia? How do we start to take this from trial to actual use? But most importantly, how do we bring the community along with us? The success of the industry in South Australia relies on an acceptance by the community, especially in Adelaide. If we can see that Adelaide and South Australia is a place that's friendly for autonomous vehicle technology, then we're going to encourage businesses to come here and to stay here. And the Sages, the RDMs, the easy miles, ADVI itself; there is a lot of investment in South Australia becoming a hub for autonomous vehicle technology. But we as a Government have to make sure that we don't stand still, that we keep moving forward and bring the community along with us.
And in terms of the Matilda, I understand it’s going to be trialled in Glenelg, is it next week?
Not next week; there’s some trials going on a closed route system. I understand that as we go, that’ll rollout to being down at Glenelg and once it’s been proofed up but those stages are still being worked through. But it is exciting, an exciting part of the technology that you essentially integrate much more cleanly a bus stop and the vehicle, so that you can get people with disability access issues onto this mode of transport as easily and as efficiently as possible.
Are you thinking sometime next year for those trials?
Off the top of my head I think we're weeks rather than months away. But I can get back to you on a timeline.
Yeah, great. Thank you.
You mentioned, Michael, before about the roads and I guess getting the road systems and technology working together: What exactly do you mean by that? What do you envisage?
Last year we lost 1,225 people on the national roads and that death toll was unfortunately and sadly and tragically also met by 35,000 people who were seriously or otherwise injured on our roads. So we need to reduce the toll of those awful statistics on our roads and so we do that with better designed roads. We take advice from, of course, key engineers; we take advice from road safety groups. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of good work in that space and I've just recently received a report into road safety which we're looking at how soon we can adopt most, if not all of those recommendations that are being put forward to us. I have a governance review at the moment into the recommendations that have been put forward. They set a high bar, but we also need to make sure that we do everything we can to work towards zero road toll on our national byways and highways.
But we're also doing that with a $9.7 million investment in the Office of Future Transport Technologies headed up by Roland Pittar within my Department. We've set up that section of the Department, which is going to look at just how we embrace the opportunities that driverless technologies are giving our nation. I'm also very, very pleased that we're also as a Federal Government investing heavily into STEM subjects to make sure that science, technology, engineering and mathematics is something that both at a secondary and a tertiary level, that we're investing heavily into - particularly with girls and young women to make sure that they know that there's job prospects there into the future.
I’m delighted to work with Stephan Knoll and the Steven Marshall Government here in South Australia to make sure that we get this technology up and running. I'm really, really pleased with how they've adapted to the challenges, to the opportunities and to the new technology that Stephan Knoll as a young Minister, he really wants to make this something that he's got his name all over. South Australia is certainly pushing hard and ahead in adapting these new technologies, in being a leader of the driverless future and I’m delighted to work with him to see what we can do as a Commonwealth to embrace that as well.
I just had a couple of other things to ask you about today. [Laughs]. Thank you, thank you all. Thank you so much. Just in regards to the 15 members in the New South Wales Party that have resigned, what’s your feelings on that at this point?
The National Party doesn’t want to have people who have the sort of ideologies and the philosophies that don’t concur with our Party. These people who have resigned - well, if they’ve got those ideas and those ideals, well, I say to them: good riddance. Quite frankly, we don’t want people who are going to share extremist ideas and try and influence others along their ideology. We want to make sure the National Party is doing what we should be doing, what the people who vote and indeed those who don't vote for us expect us to do. And that is: fight hard for rural and regional Australia; make sure that we're getting better infrastructure; make sure that we’re getting better health and education services; make sure that we're getting better connectivity, whether it's mobile phones, whether it's the NBN - but making sure that rural and regional Australia is front and centre of everything we're doing, everything we're talking about. Every waking minute of every day, National Party Members of Parliament are concentrating on doing just that. We don't need people infiltrating our Party who, quite frankly, don't belong in our Party. Never have. They don’t now. They never will.
This has happened on someone else's watch, namely Barnaby Joyce. Who’s responsible for this?
It’s not happened under anybody’s watch. I mean, you can you can sign up to a political Party online and provide your credit card details - it doesn't necessarily mean to say that you are an endorsed member of that Party. You have to go to a branch level, and that's what's happened largely here. But the fact is, you know, sometimes people, we don't ask for their rap sheet when they join a Party. Maybe in future we need to better look at the processes by which people can join our political Party. Indeed, I think all political Parties should do just that, have a look at their processes of how people can join, and then if people do start showing signs early on in their membership of a political Party that are not welcome - whether it's the National Party, indeed whether it's Liberal, Labor, whatever the party might be - making sure that those people are then asked to leave that Party or told to leave that Party. That's what's happened here.
These people do not belong in the National Party and we want to concentrate on making sure that rural and regional people know that we’re representing their best interests in the sorts of things that I mentioned before, infrastructure, services, and making sure that they get a fair deal to improve their lives and livelihoods. That's what we're about. We're about small business, we're about farmers, and we’re about rural and regional Australia. We will always fight for country Australia. We’ll always fight hardest for country Australia, because that’s our whole and sole focus. In the national interest, of course, we don't want to see people with extremist ideas. We've told them, we've asked some of them to leave; others have left on their own volition. And I say to them: good riddance.
Just in regards to Nauru as well, what’s your opinion, it’s come out saying at the end of the year that the asylum seekers and children could be moved from Nauru. What’s your thoughts? Is this a good thing?
Well, of course it’s a good thing. But at the end of the day, too, people have to understand that we have strong border protection measures in place, and we have them in place for a good reason. We don't want people coming to our nation who are unauthorised to do so. Now, under Labor’s watch, 55,000 people arrived on more than 800 boats, and 1200 of them tragically died at sea. Those 55,000 people included more than 8000 children. Since coming to Government in 2013, we’ve closed 17 detention centres. Quite frankly, Labor spent more money on detention centre beds than they ever did on hospital beds. Our focus has always been on strong borders. Our focus has always been on making sure that we have very humanitarian methods in having people come to our country.
I look at my own community of Wagga Wagga, where we've taken on board 55 Yazidi people, and we did that because we had strong border protections in place, but at the same time, when we needed to reach out a hand of friendship, a hand of kindness, we were able to do so because we had the capacity to ensure that those people successfully integrated into our community. When you have strong border protections, you can have humanitarian acts of kindness and put those measures in place. You can’t do it when people are arriving on almost a daily basis, as Labour did with very loose border protections. Let me tell you: if Bill Shorten ever becomes the Prime Minister, the borders will be open again, the boats will return, and tragically we’ll see more of what we saw from between 2007 and 2013. I have to say that when the Howard Government lost in 2007, there were four adult males, four adult males in detention in Australia. When we took back over in 2013, that number had increased to tens of thousands. The maths is pretty simple. The Liberal and Nationals, we have strong border policies. Labor Government, they don’t care.
Is this watering down our immigration policies, though, having them come back by the end of the year?
No, it’s not. I’ve got every faith that Peter Dutton is doing the right thing. He’s a very compassionate person. We want to make sure that we do the right thing always, and we are. We do the right thing by having strong border protections in place. I have every faith that Peter Dutton is doing, and will continue to do, a very responsible and caring role as the Minister for Home Affairs.
Thank you very much.